Whether you are ready to launch a new website, program, software, retail store, new product or even a new church campus, you need to know when it’s ready–not halfway and not overdone, but ready. I have coined a term for what the perfect launch stage, I call it “critical mass.”
When launching something new, our tendency is to err on two opposite sides: too much or too little. Too much, or sometimes called “overkill,” can delay a project launch date, increase the budget and make it cumbersome and difficult to understand or navigate. I remember working on a software project that started out as a simple idea to solve a straight forward problem. During development it grew and by the time it finally launched, late and over budget, it was bloated and difficult to learn. Sadly, the extra features that cost the most and delayed the project were not as important to the users as the developers thought.
Launching with “too little” is no fun either. If it’s not complete or finished enough to meet the need you set out to meet, then people will be disappointed. I remember visiting a retailer’s grand opening. I was surprised that the selves were half empty and they didn’t have any of the things I was looking for. “Come back next week, we should have a lot more stuff then.” Really?! Why didn’t you wait and opened the store with all your merchandize? Needless to say, I didn’t go back. They are no longer in business.
So what’s the right balance? That’s the question on every project, or product manager or leader. While it might be different in each case, here’s what it absolutely must do in order to survive:
It must solve the problem it was created to solve, and do it well. Whether it’s software, product or a facility, it must do the very basic thing it needs to do in a way that grabs people and pulls them in. “This works great. I can’t wait to see what comes next.” Part of this is knowing the problem, how to solve, the audience and staying resolute on the scope. Trust me, this is hard said than done. Scope creep can slow you down, trigger-happy bosses can cause you to go out with less than you need. Remember you need critical mass, just the right amount of features, inventory, products, seats to make it work. For that to happen you better know the problem and your audience very well.
Have you ever been part of a launch that was either premature or overdone? What happened?